“Jeopardy!” has found its replacement for Alex Trebek, naming not one but two full-time hosts.
Mike Richards, who had been heavily rumored as the frontrunner since last week, will serve as the primary host for “Jeopardy!,” while Bialik will host the primetime and spin-off specials, including the just-announced “Jeopardy! National College Tournament” that will air on ABC in 2022.
Bialik’s role is part of “Jeopardy!” producer Sony Pictures Television’s plan to further expand the franchise. Both her and Richards had served as guest fill-ins this year as while the producers searched for a successor to Trebek, who died last November from cancer.
“We are thrilled to begin the next chapter of America’s Favorite Quiz Show with Mike hosting our daily show and Mayim hosting new versions of ‘Jeopardy!,’” said Ravi Ahuja, Chairman of Global Television Studios and Corporate Development for Sony Pictures. “We took this decision incredibly seriously. A tremendous amount of work and deliberation has gone into it, perhaps more than has ever gone into the selection of hosts for a show – deservedly so because it’s ‘Jeopardy!’ and we are following the incomparable Alex Trebek. A senior group of Sony Pictures Television executives pored over footage from every episode, reviewed research from multiple panels and focus groups, and got valuable input from our key partners and ‘Jeopardy!’ viewers.”
Richards is a bit of an upset, considering that many in the industry viewed former super-contestant and current consulting producer Ken Jennings as Trebek’s likely successor. Jennings’ two-week guest hosting tenure was the highest-rated among any of the replacements, though he was also the first to go, so he had a level of built-in interest that has faded over time.
Richards, for what it’s worth, was the second-highest rated guest host and not far behind Jennings’ 6.0 rating with a 5.9 rating for his two-week run in late February and early March.
Though Richards is a relative newbie to “Jeopardy!” fans — he joined the show as its executive producer last year, only months before Trebek died — he has extensive experience in the game show world and as a host. Early on his career, Richards hosted reality series like “High School Reunion” for the former WB network, and “Beauty and the Geek” for its successor, The CW. He joined “The Price Is Right” in 2008 as a co-executive producer (where he was named in a work gender discrimination lawsuit in 2010). By the time he came aboard “Jeopardy!,” Richards had produced more than 4,000 hours of game show TV.
Bialik is best known for her TV roles sitcoms “Blossom” and “The Big Bang Theory.” Her guest-hosting stint in early June drew a 5.1 rating.
“I am deeply honored to have the opportunity to host the syndicated version of ‘Jeopardy!’” Richards said. “Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined being chosen to step into a role of this magnitude. I am incredibly humbled to step behind the lectern and will work tirelessly to make sure our brilliant contestants shine in each and every episode. Alex believed the game itself and the contestants are the most important aspects of the show. I was fortunate to witness his professionalism, intensity and kindness up close and that will serve as the ultimate blueprint as we continue to produce the show we love. I am thrilled that Mayim is joining the ‘Jeopardy!’ team. Her academic track record and enthusiasm for the game made her a terrific guest host. It will be a privilege to produce the primetime series with her as host.”
“I couldn’t be more thrilled to join the ‘Jeopardy!’ family,” Bialik said. “What started out with my 15-year-old repeating a rumor from Instagram that I should guest host the show has turned into one of the most exciting and surreal opportunities of my life! I’m so grateful and excited to continue to work with Mike Richards, and I’m just over the moon to join forces with him and Sony. After all the conversations we’ve had about this partnership, I am just so ready to get started!”